Annals of Customer Service- TriCounty Bank and CCCU

When I saw that strange-looking letter, I knew it meant trouble. Here was a letter from BOTH North Valley Bank and Tri-Counties Bank, which has absorbed them.  At the bottom were TWO signatures, one from each bank. When I worked at Pearl Harbor, the CO used to say, “Split responsibility is no  responsibility.”  The Old Man was right. 

The letter was dated October 3 and notified me that as of October 25, a new servicer, Tri-County, ‘will be collecting your mortgage payments from you” and exhorted me to send all payments due on or after October 25 to TriCounties Bank at a Chico address.  I called both numbers to find out that to expect. My mortgage payments are automatically deducted from my Coast Central account.  I called Coast Central and both of the numbers on the letter. No one knew anything except that one person thought that TriCounties would be sending me a letter, maybe even telling me what my new account number would be. Nothing came.

I called Tri-Counties again and was told that all the information was in the packet that was sent to me. I explained that no packet had been sent. Finally they told me to visit the TriCounties branch after November 1. On the morning of Monday , November 3, my mortgage payment cleared! Now I could avoid a useless trip to Tri-Counties, right? Oh no, I called and was told by a nice young lady that I had to come in, anyway. I obediently drove to their branch, which was having the signage changed. It turned out the only reason for making me come in was to pick up the stupid packet, WHICH THEY COULD HAVE MAILED TO ME.

Now that I know Tri-Counties is in such dire financial  straits that they cannot afford first-class postage and an envelope, I will be following their fortunes with renewed interest. 

Meanwhile, a Friend of the Blog filed the following: 

“I tried to simply cash a small $260 check (usually $300) from my wife, done monthly , mostly in McKinleyville’s CCCU. Both of us have an account at CCCU. I told the teller my member #. I assume somewhere on their screen it would show that I have 10Kin checking alone. I have lived at the same home address with the same phone number for 43 years and have been a member of CCCU for decades. My CDL was expired and the clerk was not going to let me cash the check without an unexpired CDL. When I pointed out much of the above, I was told that next time I would need an unexpired CDL.  I asked the teller to ask management why? Are they law enforcement? What next, you need to be a currently licensed driver?  I have both a current license and a CA ID card. I have never had a point against my license since I started driving at age 15 1/2. DMV is using the same photo for both.  My credit score is well above 800.  I have a VISA with CCCU. I have two monthly deposits from CAL-PERS and Social Security into this CCCU’s checking. DMV never asked for the expired license. I held onto it thinking it would be a valid Government issue photo ID-  not at CCCU. What a tale of woe.” 

What a tale of woe, indeed. Whatever happened to recognizing your customers?

I drop into Tasty Tacos (in Cutten, on Walnut) every week and when Tom announces “Julie, you’re order’s ready,” all’s right with the world. The banks should be learning from small business. Boy, should they. 

“Your credit card expired in your PayPal account”.

Just returned from the Bay Area and found this message in my in-box. Came as quite a shock since I closed my PayPal account a year ago,  mostly because I was tired of all the emails and warnings about mischief with PayPal accounts. All they wanted was for me to update my credit card details. Yeah, right. 

IF you receive something like this, go to the PayPal website and click the “Contact Us” button. PayPal will ask you to forward the bogus message to them so they can investigate. 

The world is full of dreadful people, isn’t it?

Umpqua Update- No Humboldt Closures

Umpqua Bank’s consolidation plans do NOT include any Humboldt County banks, a spokesperson for the Bank confirmed. As we reported recently, several other California  branches of Umpqua are looking at closure, so this is a vote of confidence in the Humboldt economy. At least I’d like to see it that way.

Ms. Laura Beshire also corrected my error in naming Utah as a state in which Umpqua does business- should have said Idaho. Much thanks to her.

Now everybody clean up your Fourth of July debris and get back to work. Wish we had more holidays during the good weather.

Umpqua- the Not-So-Little Bank that Could

I tend to think of Umpqua as a small, local bank but it’s not.  Since the early 90’s it has grown from six branches to 364,  including those that were acquired from Sterling Bank in April of this year. They have 5000 employees in branches in Washington, Oregon, California , Nevada and Utah and are looking to open more, while consolidating for efficiency.

How do they distinguish themselves from all the other banks and credit unions seeking your money? By a folksy approach that includes including displays of local products in its branches, and handing out chocolates with each cash withdrawal. Each Umpqua branch has a telephone direct to Ray Davis, the president,  whose approach to growing the bank has been to build a $22B bank while still operating small.

Umpqua has four branches in Humboldt now but has announced that 27 branches will be closed before the end of the year- 13 in Washington and seven each in Oregon and California. No specifics available yet, but Umpqua has attracted the attention of no less a news source than the Economist. That’s bigtime.  

I usually deal with credit unions, with the exception of my mortgage with NVB, so I have no experience as an Umpqua customer. Do you deal with them?  What have been your experiences?  We’d love to hear from you. 


Should the USPS Offer Financial Services?

The Post Office’s inspector General has proposed just that.  In a while paper released earlier in the year, the IG suggested that USPS start offering financial services such as check-cashing, bill payments, international money transfers and even small loans.

When you think  about it, it makes a lot of sense. Postal workers are looking for work, and there are a lot of them .  The USPS is second only to Walmart among civilian employers with 491,000 workers.  Meanwhile our poorest citizens are losing access to banks , which always seem to close their branches in the poor neighborhoods first. Poor people pay dearly for payday loans and check-cashing services. It has been estimated that 25% of American households are un-banked or under-banked meaning they have no or inadequate access to checking and savings services. These folks pay more for banking services than the rest of us do.

This arrangement may seem outlandish to us but many Asian and European countries have been doing this for years. Japan Post operates one of that nation’s biggest banks.  I once hosted a particularly obnoxious German tourist who wouldn’t stop complaining about the fact that he couldn’t make long-distance calls from our post offices. Hey, there’s another idea…

Anyway, the idea of expanding postal services, especially those helpful to our poorer citizens appeals to me. What do you think?

RCB WILL BE ON HIATUS FOR A FEW DAYS. Your comments are welcome and will be responded to by the middle of next week. See you soon!

The Consumers’ Guide to Summer 2014- Bring Money

-To no one’s surprise, the courts have approved the merger of American and USAir, which creates the world’s largest airline. Meanwhile, United, our sole air carrier thru their sub, United Express,  was the ONLY major air carrier to lose money this past quarter. To add to UAL’s problems, two of the runways at SFO will be unavailable this summer, leading to lots and lots of delays and consumer unhappiness for the unprepared.

What to do, what to do? Driving to Redding won’t help.  They only offer three flights a day to the beleagered SFO, again thru United Express. Driving to Medford gives you access to Horizon, SkyWest, United Express and Allegeant which offer nonstops to Portland, Seattle, LAX, Denver, Salt Lake City and , seasonally to Las Vegas. Lots more choices, but a four-hour drive, which more and more people are doing from what I hear. Then there’s Sacramento, which offers many choices including direct flights to Mexico. Don’t forget your gas will cost $4.50 according to some predictions. Bargains will be hard to come by so be sure to share with us if you find any.

– According  to The Economist  China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy later this year, partly as a result of their relaxing the one-baby rule. Does this bother you?  I see it as an enormous opportunity for Americans in the baby businesses -baby clothes, cribs etc. Their disposable income is rising so fast that the cheap COSCO stuff sold at KMart won’t be good enough for them. Humboldt County has never had a garment industry to speak of but wouldn’t it be nice if someone figured out how to make baby or children’s clothes our of that nice soft hemp cloth?  Someone local?

-Greg Gehr an FOB -Friend of the Blog- shared a link to Titan TV as an alternative to whatever comes out in this week’s URGE. I was pretty impressed especially as it gives more info, like is the show new or a repeat. Definitely useful. Thanks, Greg!

-Another FOB shared this about Northern Redwood Federal Credit Union, an institution I have not dealt with but considering my recent travails with Coast Central I just might look into them. Their Visa Classic Credit Card offers a 1% cash back applied as a credit to your savings account. They’re at 1270 Giuntoli Lane in Arcata and the phone is 800-822-5903. Jenna Cardoza is their Operations Officer and you might want to check them out.

– Finally just a peek into the future. The Eureka Fair Wage initiative is felt by its backers to be a sure shot for qualifying for the ballot in November and you’ll be hearing plenty about it  before them because it is already a bone of contention between the two 4th District Supervisorial contenders, Kerrigan in favor and Bass against. This is an enormous issue for Eureka so pay attention!  There should be some lively debate and it may well affect YOUR pocketbook.

See you later. Gonna be a busy summer!